Can You Manage Opioid Addiction with Medication?
I think it’s pretty safe to say that opiates are amongst some of the most heinous and addictive substances known to man. Its destructive potential has been recognized for centuries and in China, where the horror of opiate addiction has been apparent the longest, the ancient government went as far as banning opium as early as the 18th century. Since then, opiates have circumambulated the world and created addicts on every continent.
Most recently, a highly deadly and dangerous epidemic of super-strong opiates known as Fentanyl has swept across the American heartland. This drug is often mixed with heroin to give it an extra kick, which often turns fatal for the user. In some areas, entire communities have been affected. Fortunately, huge advancements in pharmaceuticals have given the world some tools to fight the opioid pandemic. The following blog is a list of some of those options if you or someone you know is dealing with opiate addiction:
Note: the following drugs are prescription-only and should be used under the supervision of a qualified doctor.
Suboxone Should be Used Short-Term
By far, the safest and most widely prescribed anti-opiate medication today is Suboxone (also known as naloxone or buprenorphine). Arguably, the best part about this drug is that it can reverse the effects of opiate overdose and if taken in time, can save the user from the potentially deadly consequences. In addition to the overdose-reversing benefit, suboxone is perhaps the safest maintenance drug prescribed for staying off of addictive opiates.
This is because, when taken correctly, the drug can reduce opiate cravings and reduce the effects if a relapse occurs, Suboxone is a synthetic opiate and binds to the opioid receptors in the brain. When new opiates are introduced, their effect has much less of a euphoric high than normal which discourages users from wanting their fix.
Unfortunately with this drug as with the others highlighted in this article, the treatment can easily become the disease under the dysfunction of the addict’s mind; these drugs are still addictive when abused! That’s why it’s a way recommended that detoxing from opiates be done with the help of medical professions. Lest the addict is kicking the can of their addiction down a dark and doomed road.
Here’s what the National Institute of Health had to say on Suboxone after a study involving the drug and young opiate addicts:
Opioid-addicted youth who continued to take Suboxone for 12 weeks were less likely to use opioids, cocaine, and marijuana, to inject drugs, or drop out of treatment than those who received short-term detoxification and counseling. (NIH)
Methadone Is Effective but Very Addictive
Methadone is an opiate used for the treatment of chronic pain or in programs for opiate addiction because of its opiate blocking-like qualities; in other words, like suboxone, it’s harder for an addict to get high off opiates when they have taken their methadone dose. Before suboxone, methadone was the go-to pharmaceutical for combating opiate addiction and methadone clinics proliferated in communities across the country. For many, the drug is an effective way of getting one’s life together. But it’s not a cure for addiction, merely a treatment.
The problem with methadone is that for those who aren’t ready for recovery, the drug simply becomes a new currency to deal in. Without confronting the root causes of addiction, these drugs just become a bandaid on a broken limb. Real recovery involves much more than merely more substances. That’s why addiction should always be treated as a medical issue with a diverse approach to dealing with dependency, not just the medications. Detoxing is simply the first step of many.